Friday, May 13, 2011

A Question of Reality

A bunch of us were at the diner the other night, and one of our friends mentioned that he always brings real maple syrup with him if he knows the place he's going doesn't have it.

"That's funny," I said. "I always carry packets of Sweet 'n Low with me."

Therein lies the difference between us.

I drink decaf coffee.

I crave Fleischmann's margarine.

I guzzle Diet Coke.

I order Domino's Pizza when I'm sick, though it's not "real pizza," according to New York purists. Call it "pizza food," if you will. I even like weird crackery frozen cafeteria pizza.

I don't know if anything in my life is real. Am I a real writer? (I struggled to identify myself as one when I was legitimately an Artist in Residence at The Desert Lily.) Am I a real actor, though I don't have an agent or a union affiliation?

Are the people who have embraced me as their daughter my real family, though I have another mother and father out there who refuse to speak to me?

Was my last job real, though it only lasted three months?

Have any of my romantic relationships been real? The one time I thought I was in a long-term, committed relationship, I found out that I wasn't the girlfriend, I was the other woman.

In fact, my greatest fantasy is to be in love with someone. (Note my requirement of with.) But I would settle for - no, not settle. I would relish in, rejoice in, become ecstatic and rapturous in any expression of romantic, sexual, devastating, cosmic love, even if it weren't, as they say, real. I'd just like to hear it, once. But, in the throes of passion, when someone asks you what you want them to do to you, you cannot say, "Tell me you love me. It doesn't matter if you don't mean it. I just want to hear it."

I've come to accept artifice, illusion, and superficiality as no less real than anything seemingly organic and authentic. I am an agnostic of the most gullible sort: I don't know whether to believe anything, so I believe everything is just as likely to be true as it's likely to be not.

Am I here now? Was I ever here before? Will I ever be here again? I don't know, maybe. Probably. Sure. Why not?

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